The Olympics demonstrated for me what I love about social media. I loved watching gymnastics with my computer in my lap, laughing at tweets from people I love about an athlete’s strange wardrobe decisions and cheering on the team that in overtime just needs to score a stinking goal. I loved watching what is trending worldwide to see what was happening live in London, imagining being in that beautiful city to witness history firsthand. When I realized that I couldn’t access online content because we no longer have cable and NBC was requiring subscriber information for access, I went to Twitter to voice my frustration and joined joyfully in the #NBCfail snark. When Matt and Meredith insulted the entire world with completely inane and potentially racist commentary during the Opening Ceremony, I was interacting with old friends on Facebook who joined me in laughing disbelief and horror. During the games, I followed athletes and loved seeing their photographs and reading their joy firsthand. It made the Olympics fun and interactive. I felt like a part of it, and it removed the roadblock that NBC had placed between me and the Olympics that limited my viewing choices to what they handpicked to air between commercials to generate the most revenue.
It made the Olympics feel like an event that I was watching on a giant sofa with people I love, like the Lost Finale we watched with our closest island-adoring friends.
I loved it.
We were joined together, rooting for these athletes who have spent years training for this one moment. We were hopeful and joyful and cheering them on. It was unity in action, the entire world celebrating life and health and hard work.
It is what I love the most about social media. Simple joy and the crossing of divides.
And it is the exact opposite of what we are entering into next. The same reason I loved social media during the Olympics is why I dread it in the politically-charged fall. Because it is the opposite of unity – it is division and tearing each other down and flinging soundbites at each other from across the divide. Politics makes social media miserable, and I truly dread it.
I want to cling to the Olympic unity this Fall. Unless we are uniting in our mutual disgust with Matt Lauer, I want to avoid the mudslinging. I want to share light and love on social media regardless of who wins and loses in November.
Because, here’s the deal, whatever happens, we are not the enemy we are supposed to fight (see Ephesians 6:12), and really, who ever changed their mind because of a tense and charged Facebook decision? It’s pointless and divisive and we all have better things to do with our time.